Music Reviews

Paula Frazer

A Place Where I Know: 4-Track Songs 1992-2002


Paula Frazer was one of few the truly original voices on the formulaic Americana scene of the Nineties, her intimate and inimitable voice most successfully heard on her three albums with Tarnation (a solo project in disguise) and last year’s debut solo album, Indoor Universe; although, more people may know her from her guest appearances on albums by Dan the Automator and Cornershop. And as these last two projects indicate, Frazer has consistently refused the genre limitations of her contemporaries, melding Americana with jazz, showtunes, Spaghetti westerns, doo wop and more. The end result is strong and beautiful folk music, as reminiscent of Patsy Cline and Roy Orbinson as of the skewed folk of the Handsome Family and Mazzy Star.

Frazer has always been best defined by her voice and her immense capacity as a songwriter/lyricist, both of which are pushed to the forefront on this low-key collection of 4-track home tapes. Most songs are early versions of Tarnation and solo material, and as such, A Place Where I Know works fine as a career summary, presenting her past with a twist. The tracks here aren’t all that different form the originals. But the arrangements are less dramatic, and the intimacy even more underscored. From the wonderful opening track “The Only One” to the closer “Deep was the Night,” A Place Where I Know is a brief but stunning ride through ten years of some of the most vital and moving modern folk music of the last decade. The couple of new songs (“Taken” and “Long Ago”) only underline Frazer’s continued importance and unique musical capacities, showing an artist ready to take both Americana and herself even further along one of the roads it needs to go.

Birdman Records:

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